The Fayette County Republican Party’s display of a dartboard with pictures of four Democratic U.S. congresswomen taped to it at the county fair stirred a lot of controversy last week.
The chairman of another GOP committee in Fayette County said his group had nothing to do with the display.
“We would never do something like that,” said Dr. Garret Breakiron, chairman of the Fayette County Reagan Republicans, a group that formed in 2016 as an alternative for Republicans dissatisfied with what former Chairman Russ Rhodes claimed then was a ”my way or the highway” attitude among Fayette County Republican Party leadership.
Now, the Reagan Republicans are underscoring what they say is a substantial distance between themselves and the Fayette County Republican Party.
Breakiron said the Reagan Republicans stay away from “denigrat(ing) people just because of their political affiliation.”
Fayette County Republicans took down the dartboard last week after a fair attendee’s Facebook post about it set off a string of complaints about the display.
Trinette Cunningham of Uniontown showed photos of first-term Democratic congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley, taped around the dartboard’s perimeter.
“Isn’t there enough hate, violence and divisiveness already?” Cunningham questioned. “Have we reached that low of a point where any civil discussion is obsolete and instead encourage violence for those with differing opinions?”
Speaking as both a founding member of the Reagan Republicans and a county commissioner, Dave Lohr said the dartboard display “tainted the county fair” and could be construed as promoting violence.
“I don’t believe they wanted to do that, but at the same time, it was very distasteful,” Lohr said.
Fayette County Republican Party Chairman Bill Kozlovich said the dartboard was taken down following the complaint. It had been up for two days prior to its removal.
“It was done as a fun joke for people around here that will never meet ‘the squad,’” Kozlovich said, referring to a nickname for the four progressive congresswomen of color. Ocasio-Cortez represents the 14th District of New York, Omar represents the 5th District of Minnesota, Pressley represents the 7th District of Massachusetts and Tlaib represents the 13th District of Michigan.
Kozlovich denied that the display was meant to promote violence or racism.
“This was only a game,” Kozlovich said.
Kozlovich took over as chairman of the Fayette County Republican Party last year, touting pro-life, limited government, and pro-Second Amendment values.
But Lohr said that displays like “the squad” dartboard can be alienating and argued that attacking opponents was ineffective.
“Do I have Democratic friends? Yes, I do,” Breakiron said. “I’m not going alienate my friends who are Democrats just because I’m a Republican.”
Breakiron, 66, of South Union Township took over as chairman of the Reagan Republicans eight months ago, using the extra time on his hands after semi-retiring from chiropractic practice to focus on leading the group.
The two candidates that the Reagan Republicans backed in the five-candidate county commissioner GOP primary field, Lohr and Scott Dunn, won their party’s nominations in May, and Breakiron sees the group’s influence expanding.
“We’re growing every month,” Breakiron said.
And staying positive, Breakiron noted, is part of the plan.
“If you don’t have something (nice) to say, don’t say anything at all,” Breakiron said.